HustleTown, USA: From Nawf to Souf, Houston, TX
southwest houston southside houston northside vs southside

HustleTown, USA: From Nawf to Souf, Houston, TX

Houston, Texas is a city that is divided between the North Side and South Side and has for long been influential to ‘hoods, communities and societies across the nation, from the city’s lingo of “Sauce” to the laid-back culture within streets of Houston.

Nawf Side Houston Texas

In one of the fast-growing cities in the country, the city of Houston was originally much smaller with a bulk of the population living in the city’s wards, and neighboring communities.

As slavery came to an end, freed men and women of rural communities in East Texas began to relocate into the city of Houston as many occupied the 4th Ward, while a small percentage of others decided to reside in the city’s 3rd and 5th wards.

fifth ward houston ghetto
Image of today’s Fifth Ward Houston community.

While historically the 5th Ward has been unofficially labeled as the heart of the North Side’s black community, the North Side has had other historic black neighborhoods like Acres Homes and Studewood as African-Americans have called these two areas home for generations.

The 4th Ward, originally known as Freedmen Town, would eventually be changed by urban renewal with the construction of the San Felipe Courts public housing complex and other construction projects like Interstate 45.

As urban renewal destroyed the majority of the 4th Ward many would relocate into the already existing black communities of either the North Side’s 5th Ward or the South Side’s 3rd Ward.  The Fifth Ward was once one of the city’s most thriving areas until around the 1960s as Lyons Avenue was the heart of the community that was filled with a number of black owned businesses.

northside houston ghetto kashmere gardens
A convenient store in today’s Kashmere Gardens neighborhood.

After the removal of segregation laws by the 1960s, former all-white communities were now having black families to move into the neighborhoods of Houston’s Northeast Side like Trinity Gardens and Kashmere Gardens as blacks were beginning to leave the Fifth Ward.

By the 1970s, Houston’s black population dominated the city’s Northeast Side as areas like Settagast, Lakewood, and Homestead from Rosewood to Riverwood were predominantly African-American.

Acres Homes Houston

While west of Interstate 45, the Northwest Side grew out of the historic black community of Acres Homes and expanded and grew into neighboring neighborhoods like the Greater Inwood section of Houston’s North Side.

The reputation of the North Side has lasted for generations as this side of town has produced some of the city’s most respected, talented, and resilient citizens coming from neighborhoods like Acres Homes and 5th Ward or along Lockwood Drive and Homestead Road.

acres homes houston ghetto
The Lincoln City community of Acres Homes.

The largest community of the North Side is Acres Homes, aka the 4-4, a large area expanding from Gulf Bank to West Tidwell has been known for sections like Garden City (9601 Da Briccs), Tidwell (Die Hard), Gulf Bank (Hollywood), Copper Tree, Carver Road, Lincoln Park (790 Da Ghetto), Lincoln City and many others.

Acres Homes is a diverse community between its makeup of apartment complexes like Garden City, neighborhoods like Lincoln City, or rural areas that resemble small farmlands between Tidwell and Little York Road.

Originally called Acreage Home, African-Americans have been occupying this section of Houston since the beginning of the 1900s as the community would continue to grow year by year with developments of neighborhoods and housing complexes.

acres homes houston ghetto garden city
The Garden City housing complex of the Acres Homes Houston neighborhood.
Continuing The North Side Houston Story

Just north of downtown is the 5th Ward, which is broken down into Bucktown, Liberty Road, Brewster Park, Coke Street Apartments, Kelly Courts, West Street, the Bottom, Bac Street, and 2Cs around Lockwood and Collingsworth.

5th Ward is one of Texas’ most legendary communities as this large North Side neighborhood is the home of numerous historic Texans like J. Prince the founder of Rap-A-Lot and Scarface and the Geto Boys, boxer George Forman and others.

While Lockwood and Hirsch streets run north and south in the 5th Ward neighborhood, these two streets are also the heart of two neighboring neighborhoods just north of the 5th Ward, Kashmere Gardens and Trinity Gardens.

By the 1970s, African-Americans were leaving the 5th Ward and began to move further north on the North Side in previous communities that were occupied by Houston’s white families, with Kashmere and Trinity Gardens being two of the first neighborhoods that African-Americans relocated to.

greenspoint houston
The Greenspoint community.

Following the movement into Kashmere and Trinity Gardens the city’s black population would further grow in neighborhoods along Homestead Road, Wayside Drive, and Mesa Drive, which would fully establish the city’s Northeast Side.

While there are other North Side neighborhoods like Hardy, 605 Berry Road, Carverdale, Heather Glen and Willow Run, JFK Boulevard of Aldine and others, the heart of the North Side is within the original Northwest side and Northeast side ‘hoods.

Currently, the black population of Houston for the past couple decades having been moving outside of the Sam Houston Tollway in areas like Greenspoint or Cranbrook, which makes one wonder what the future of the North Side’s black population will be.

Souf Side Houston Texas

A trip to the South Side of Houston will lead one to witness the childhood homes of numerous Houston legends like Z-Ro of Mo City, Lil Keke of South Park and the legendary DJ Screw and the Screwed Up Click.

While the city is divided between North and South, the South Side is also divided between the Southeast and the Southwest expanding from Diary Ashford Road of Alief to Marin Luther King Blvd. of South Park and South Acres.

The Southeast is based around the Third Ward which is centered Alabama Street, the Cuney Homes and other blocks within the community, while other Southeast areas are just as reputable like Yellowstone, South Park and Sunnyside.

3rd ward houston ghetto
The heart of 3rd Ward Houston, TX

With hundreds of people living in Sunnyside around Scott Street and Cullen Boulevard, the streets of the Check-A-Hoe Texas, the local nickname of the community, can be seen from Bricker Park to Blue Ridge.

East of Jutland Road from Sunnyside is the South Park neighborhood, a large community that is separated by Martin Luther King Boulevard with ‘hoods and blocks around Herschelwood and Southbank.

South of Airport Boulevard is South Acres, a large area that is home to many areas like Hillwood and Kennedy Heights, but none are as infamous and notorious as the Botany Lane and Cloverland area or the apartment complexes of the Dead End.

dead end houston projects
The Dead End section of South Acres.

Driving pass highway 288 will enter you into the Southwest section of Houston, starting with Hiram Clarke and MO City (Missouri City) and followed by apartment complexes around Fondren and in the SWAT section (SouthWestAliefTexas).

As Houston’s black population grew out of the Southeast communities of Sunnyside and South Acres, the population founded a home in the Hiram Clarke neighborhood.  Hiram Clarke is one of the South Side’s largest neighborhoods with sections like Windsor Village, Briarwick, Brentwood, Glen Iris (G.I.), and Almeda Plaza, making this South Side community seemed as its own separate side of town.

South of Hiram Clarke is Missouri City, or MO City for short, which is officially in Texas’ Fort Bend County, but the actual ‘hoods of MO City are literally not within the city limits of Missouri City.  Missouri City has always been looked upon as an affluent suburb of Houston, but there is another side of the community that is more urban and always been referred as MO City with areas like Ridgemont, Ridgegate, Briargate, Quail Run, and Hunters Glen.

southwest houston alief
SouthWest Houston community of Alief, Texas.

By the 1990s, the South Side community expanded into the West, South West Houston that is based around the tens of apartment complexes that expand from Fondren Road to Alief, Texas in areas of Spice Lane, 8900 Braeswood, Forum Park, Club Creek or Corporate Drive.

Southwest Houston has become the city’s most active section as low income apartment complexes have housed thousands of people in a small radius of the city.

Before a large of portion of Houston’s black population could call the numerous of neighborhoods of Houston’s Southwest and Southeast home, laws and rules prohibited the city’s African-American from only living in a couple of sections, 4th Ward and 3rd Ward.  As urban renewal destroyed the majority of the 4th Ward many would relocate into the already existing black communities of either the North Side’s 5th Ward or the South Side’s 3rd Ward.

The Third Ward, which is near the legendary MacGregor Park and Texas Southern University, was one of the biggest black communities in the country, since the beginning of the 1900s, and was famously known for local entertainment and hundreds of black-owned businesses.

third ward houston ghetto
Today’s Houston 3rd Ward community.

After the removal of segregation laws by the 1960s, former all-white communities were now having black families to move into the neighborhoods of Houston’s Southeast Side in areas like South Park and Sunnyside as blacks were beginning to leave the Third Ward.

Starting during the 1970s and continuing into the 1990s and 2000s, the population expanded further west into the many neighborhoods of Hiram Clarke, Missouri City, Southwest Houston, and Alief.

Currently, Houston is one of fastest growing cities as the city’s black population is constantly increasing and establishing themselves in communities throughout the city and not just in a specific area like previous generations.

*Note: All information is provided either through people of the community, outside sources, and/or research. Some information might not be current and/or 100% accurate.

Check Out More Stories on Urban Culture.